By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: July 28, 2012
When Cathy Ross wanted to give back to the great outdoors, she expected to work on the trail or volunteer with the parks. Then, she noticed historical material on the Garibaldi Park at the local ranger’s office.
“I have always felt it’s important to honour the past, and to form its connection with the present,” she said.
With those archives in hand, she was out in the community, interviewing people and organisations that have been involved in creating history.
Soon, she had constructed an extensive historical timeline, and developed a resource library of documents, film, photographs, and other relevant material.
She presented some of the history, from the origins of the park to the pioneering work of early settlers, at the Squamish Public Library on Thursday, July 19th.
The outline that she has compiled is at least 150 pages long, but the packed crowd at the library seemed to enjoy every bit of it.
Garibaldi Provincial Park was established in 1927, largely through the efforts of the British Columbia Mountaineering Club (BCMC).
Today the park sees thousands of visitors each year, not only by way of the Whistler-Blackcomb ski resort but also via Paul Ridge and Diamond Head area near Squamish.
The most famous approach, though, is by the Rubble Creek trail to the Black Tusk Meadows and Garibaldi Lake.
And perhaps, not a lot of people would know, this July marks the centennial year of this trail.
The initial trail was created from the efforts of a twenty two year old, early mountaineer and elected president of the BCMC named William John Gray.
Little is known about the early life of William “Billy” Gray, except that he was active in the BCMC from its earliest days in 1907 and at one time worked as a cigar maker’s apprentice.
Gray was described as a public spirited man who made Gray’s Trail, today known as the Rubble Creek Trail, at a time when there were no detailed maps of the Garibaldi area.
It was his dogged persistent that led to the carving of an easy access to the Garibaldi Lake Park, and ultimately to the creation of the park as it is known today.
Joseph Charles Bishop, the president of the BC Mountain Club, and a man named ‘Doc’ explored the Diamond Head area and decided that in 1910 the first BCMC Annual Summer Camp would be held there in 1910.
The intention was to promote the study of the mountains, valleys and ice fields of British Columbia.
During this time, mountain exploration took place through a combination of first ascents and observations from the tops of the next ridges that came into view.
“It was a crazy steep trail, and there were no roads, but they were fascinated by the alpine meadows and the wonderland they saw,” said Cathy.
The summer camp soon surged in popularity as a holiday retreat for those visiting from Vancouver, Ross said.
Garibaldi is still a popular destination for many hikers, in part due to the path carved by early pioneers.
Honouring the men and women who shaped the park was her motivation in putting together a rich history of the park.
She is now hoping to publish her research in a book.
“We tend to take our parks for granted, and we forget how these parks came to be,” she said.